Rev heads' drag strip to go ahead in Central Highlands
IT HAS been a long time coming but, finally, Central Highlands drag racing enthusiasts will have a venue to call their own.
On Wednesday the council gave the go-ahead for a new drag strip to be built west of Emerald, with construction to begin as early as next year.
The Denison Downs property will serve as a temporary venue for the Central Highlands Drag Association until funding can be sought for a permanent facility to be built adjacent to the existing motorsport complex.
News of council's approval put a spring in the step of CHDRA president Shane Seawright, who said it was an important first move to breathe new life into the throttle-fuelled sport in the region.
That's massive news; it means we've now got some direction for the things we want achieve - CHDRA president Shane Seawright
"It's certainly made my day," Seawright said.
The club has already recruited just under 400 financial members and that was without any official backing they were going to get a track at all.
Now with news that the track is actually a "goer", Seawright said he expected that number to grow exponentially.
While planning is still in its infancy, the club intends to host three to four Saturday meets per year which would start in the morning and run through until mid-evening.
They hope to draw around 500 spectators per meet and will start around June next year.
They plan to offer full canteen facilities on site plus buses running to and from town.
Seawright said once the club was established, moves to a permanent facility would be considered.
That would come when the club could show it was a "sustainable, profitable and family-orientated club".
"We don't feel we can go out and ask for funding (for a permanent track) if we can't prove that we're financially viable," he said.
"I'd like to think we will be able to achieve that in four to five years."
He said some tracks such as Portland in Victoria could be built for as little as $120,000.
The council's only concern with the drag strip proposal was the noise; which was allayed by putting the track more than 8km out of town.
The club plans to host only a few race meets per year.
The CHDRA also has the backing of neighbouring drag racing clubs in Barcaldine and Roma, both of which Seawright said had held successful events for many years.
They are also affiliated with the national association, which supplies insurance, rules and regulations.